Like all good parents in Minnesota and beyond, your children’s well-being is your greatest priority. Depending on the ages of your kids and their particular life circumstances, the amount of money needed to provide for them is likely to fluctuate through the years or, perhaps, even by the month. When you filed for divorce, you understood that the court would order you to pay child support. You wanted a divorce and in no way wished to abdicate your parental obligations.
As time went on, things changed, and you found it more difficult to keep up with court-ordered child support payments. As long as you continue to make payments on time, you may be able to request modification of the court order. What you cannot do, however, is stop making payments unless and until the court grants permission to do so.
How does the modification process typically work?
Perhaps, you lost your job, an urgent medical need arose or some other issue has impeded your ability to make timely child support payments. The Minnesota family court understands that parents may face financial crises that justify alternate payment plans on a temporary or permanent basis. The first thing you must do is file a petition to formally request modification of your existing court order.
The court will want to see evidence of need. This means you must be able to show a legitimate reason for seeking modification. If you suffer an unexpected income reduction, for instance, it might convince the court to adjust your payment schedule.
Other reasons that might justify modification
What if your children’s other parent gets a new job and enjoys a substantial pay increase? This too, might be enough reason to convince the court to lower your payments. If you remarry and gain stepchildren or your new spouse has a baby, your increased household expenses may justify lowering your child support payments as well.
The court decides on a case-by-case basis
Every state has its own guidelines regarding child support issues. The judge overseeing your case has full discretion to consider your individual circumstances and determine whether you have shown just cause for granting permission to change your payment schedule or amount. If the court denies your request, you must continue to make payments as currently stipulated in the existing court order.
What happens if you don’t?
There have been cases where Minnesota parents have gone to jail for failing to pay child support. As long as you adhere to the terms of your court order, you can avoid legal trouble. If you stop making payments without the court’s permission, the judge in charge of your case can hold you in contempt.
It’s helpful to seek guidance and support if you are unable to keep up with your current payment schedule. It is also helpful to remember that the ultimate goal is to provide for your children, and working as a team with your ex, as well as adhering to your signed agreement, are key factors toward co-parenting success.